I am an American, and I am Jewish. I also support Israel. The charge of alleged dual loyalty of Jews is on the rise. What is this charge? It’s nothing new. It’s the claim that we American Jews are either not truly loyal to the United States of America or that we have some sort of dual loyalty to the U.S. and to Israel or some allegedly anti-American organization or belief.
We must call out those that make these slurs and be heard. It’s coming from the Left and the Right. It’s coming from academics like John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt.
None of this should be a surprise given the dramatic rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incidents. Here are just a few recent examples of the charge of disloyalty with which I strongly oppose, as should all American Jews:
“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says that it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” – Rep. Ilhan Omar, referring to the Jewish lobby.
“I stood with your prime minister at the White House to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” President Trump at the Republican Jewish Committee’s annual leadership conference in Las Vegas.
This charge of disloyalty by those who harbor anti-Semitic views or are simply woefully ignorant has been used against us for centuries. Capt. Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of spying in a French court in 1894 in the midst of public discussion of Jew’s loyalty to France. Nazis made accusations that Jews in Germany were loyal to Communism and not to the State. Communists in the Soviet Union alleged that Jews were loyal to Israel and not the U.S.S.R. Arab States used it to evict millennia old Jewish populations from their midst. And in America, Lindbergh used it to accuse Jews of pushing for war, stating:
“Instead of agitating for war, the Jewish groups in this country should be opposing it in every possible way, for they will be among the first to feel its consequences. Tolerance is a virtue that depends upon peace and strength.
“A few far-sighted Jewish people realize this, and stand opposed to intervention. But the majority still do not. Their greatest danger to their country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government.”
While this was stated in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sept. 11, 1941, does anyone doubt that we could find similar sentiment and comparable statements today?
We have a major problem when those on the Left and the Right continue to spread false tropes of American Jews, particularly the charge of disloyalty or dual loyalty. To be sure, American Jews have a deep sense of affection for Israel and even attachment to Israel. In the 2018 American Jewish Committee’s Survey of American Jewish Opinion, 70 percent of American Jews agreed that caring about Israel is a very important part of being a Jew, with 41 percent strongly agreeing. A plurality, 39 percent, of American Jews consider Israeli Jews a part of our extended family when selecting from options using family as a metaphor. At the same time, a majority disapprove – 41 percent strongly – of President Trump’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations. So, clearly, we Jews have strong ties to Israel and have strong feelings toward our government’s relationship with Israel.
But strong ties and feelings do not make for dual loyalty. We must combat this at every opportunity. How do we do it? By condemning it wherever found and not offering excuses for those whose politics might align with ours. By voting out of office those politicians who spread such slurs. Oppose them in their primary if you don’t want to vote for a party in the general election that you don’t agree with, but if that is unsuccessful, drive them out nonetheless. Condemn academics who spread the slur.
Make your voice heard wherever appropriate and possible. The incidents happening in the present may seem like ignorant statements or slips of the tongue, but they must not be allowed to stand unchallenged. Here is yet one more example:
“I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress.” – Rep. Omar, replying to a Congressman charging her with anti-Semitism regarding her earlier remarks.
These comments should be clearly condemned in unequivocal statements that directly address the problem without couching them amongst other anodyne statements. We must all speak out, even against those with whom we might otherwise agree.
Doug Weinstein is an Atlanta-based intellectual property lawyer and a former member of Democrats Abroad-Taiwan.